In 92 years only five women have ever been in the running for the Best Director Academy Award and only one, Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker in 2010, has won. For the Golden Globe awards it’s pretty much the same, only one woman has ever taken home the award for Best Director, Barbra Streisand, who won in 1984 for her film Yentl.
But why did we have to wait all these years to see women nominated and most importantly more than one woman nominated for the Best Director Award. In these long 92 years, women have directed critically acclaimed films. Last year we saw incredible directors such as Greta Gerwig, Lulu Wang and Lorene Scafaria, ignored for their films which were acclaimed by critics, but apparently not good enough to get the award recognition they deserved.
Although it was amazing that Bong Joon-ho won for Parasite, we still had to experience the same group of elite white men getting nominations for Best Director. We have got to the point of losing hope come award season, because although we are getting amazing films made by women, seeing those women not getting the recognition they deserve is heartbreaking and truly disappointing.
But then 2021 came along and we were surprised to see that women and most importantly women of color are finally breaking the glass ceiling! For the first time in history, we have had three women, Regina King, Chloé Zhao and Emerald Fennell in the running for the Best Director Golden Globe Award. It has also been the first time that two women (Emerald Fennell and Chloé Zhao) have earned an Academy award directing nomination!
These women directors have also made history themselves:
She has won Best Director at the Golden Globe Awards, Directors Guild of America Awards and BAFTA, making her the second woman and first Asian woman to win the category at each awards body. She has also made history as the most-awarded filmmaker in a single awards season “With 34 awards season trophies for directing, 13 for screenplay, and nine for editing, Zhao has surpassed Alexander Payne (‘Sideways’) as the most awarded person in a single awards season in the modern era,” per Variety.
For her thriller film Promising Young Woman she received three Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay, Fennell is the first woman to be nominated for their feature film directorial debut. Last week she also took home the BAFTA award for best Original Screenplay and Outstanding British Film categories.
Her feature film directorial debut came with the drama One Night in Miami… for which she received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Director, she became the second black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director. Unfortunately, she didn’t receive an Academy Award nomination.
We are so excited that women are (finally) getting the recognition they deserve for their films. Let’s keep this change going!
By Carla Molina Whyte
Carla is a film and media graduate, intersectional feminist and social media and marketing Manager at MsMono. You can follow her on Instagram